Photo by Gwen Davis
SDOT Manager Jim Curtin revealed the details of the city's plans for traffic revisions coming to Roxbury Street S.W.

SDOT to fix SW Roxbury with package of short and long-term projects

By Gwen Davis

SDOT finally came out with its highly anticipated safety improvement plans for the SW Roxbury Street Road Corridor during the design alternatives meeting Thurs. night. A packed room in the southwest library of largely Roxbury residents provided feedback and comments.

SDOT's project manager Jim Curtin facilitated the meeting.

Background: Last summer residents teamed up to insist that the city do a safety study and fix the problems on SW Roxbury, one of the most dangerous arterials in the city, according to activists. They sent a letter to the mayor and the city council, and SDOT agreed to take up the issue. Now, approximately one year later, SDOT owns a package of both short and long-term safety improvement plans.

Here are the plan takeaways:

--> Short-term projects SDOT is engaged in and/or committed to: There are now photo enforcements installed for Holy Family and Roxhill. Curve warning and advisory speed limit signs were installed on Roxbury/Olson Place curve. Installation is pending for a left turn yield (green ball) signage at Roxbury/Olson SW.

Additional short-term projects include paving. Roxbury between 24th Ave SW and 27th Ave SW will receive paving, as well as 26th Ave SW and Roxbury -- particularly left turn pockets for north and south approaches. SDOT also promises grant funded sidewalks between 28th Ave SW and 30th Ave SW.

--> Long-term projects SDOT is considering: For the western segment: rechannelization between 17th Ave SW and 35th Ave SW. SDOT is looking at shared bus lane/potential new bus layover zone. There will also be signage improvements, spot pavement repairs and bike facilities (however, bike lanes will come later).

For White Center: no channelization changes. There will be pavement repair between 17th Ave SW and 18th Ave SW, including new curb ramps, accessible pedestrian signals at 17th Ave SW and signage improvements.

--> For the eastern segment: more channelization improvements at Olson Place SW/4th Ave SW, and adding two radar speed signs (locations are to be determined). Long-term, SDOT is looking for a pedestrian signal at 12th Ave SW/Neighborhood.

--> This was the first of two design meetings. The second one will be held on Mon. Aug. 4, 6-7:45 p.m. at the YWCA Greenbridge Center, 9720 8th Avenue SW. In late fall, SDOT will make final determinations with an outreach meeting. The plans will be implemented 2014-2015.

Summary of meeting:

"I'll do a somewhat brief presentation and then we'll have more than an hour to go over it," Curtin said. "We'll go over the project, existing conditions again, talk about short-term projects, talk about our design proposal for the corridor, and let's jump right in."

The Powerpoint presentation was easy-to-read.

"The goal of our project is safety for everyone who uses the street," Curtin said. "We'll have a mix of short and long-term solutions for the corridor."

Curtin described the extensive public outreach efforts SDOT engaged in, which included visits at city council and chamber of commerce meetings.

He also presented background facts.

Many people drive on the corridor, Curtin showed but 26 percent of users said they walk the corridor, most likely for school and shopping.

"Speeding is the primary concern," Curtin said. Additional concerns include crossings, pavement conditions, crime, lighting and school bus lighting.

Existing conditions include adjacent land uses containing 153 parcels -- 52 percent single family residential, 18 percent retail, office and industrial, with three schools, parks and open spaces.

Roxbury is classified as 'principal arterial'. It accommodates 25,000 vehicles at peak times. The majority of drivers go 5 -plus miles outside the speed limit. Many people drive over 11 miles over the speed limit.

"Speed is the single most important factor in collisions," Curtin said.

The corridor experienced 223 total collisions with 112 injuries over the past three -plus years.

"We haven't had any fatalities, so I suppose that's a bright spot," Curtin said.

There have been 11 pedestrian-vehicle collisions and two bicycle-vehile collisions.

Attendees both liked and disliked particular plans.

The western segment's rechannelization between 17th Ave SW and 35th Ave SW was both loudly booed and cheered by attendees. Curtin showed other historical slides supporting plans for rechannelization.

Rechannelization benefits include improved turning movements, including right turns for buses and freight and left turns improved for vehicles entering Roxbury.

Curtin said the design proposals would improve pedestrian environment in school zones, eliminates 'multiple threat' collision, allows SDOT to consider installing additional crosswalks, improve sight lines and provide buffer between pedestrians and vehicular traffic.

There will be one lane of traffic on each way of Roxbury, with a wide middle turning lane and two large bike lanes on both sides.

No long-term projects are set in stone.

SDOT provided attendees with a large legend outlining the pedestrian and bicycle collisions throughout SW Roxbury St. area over the past three-plus years.

See more on SDOT meetings at:

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